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The Moody Blues - Lovely To See You Live CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

3.57 | 13 ratings

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3 stars Another day, another Moody Blues live album. Ah, but this one has a twist - this time there is no orchestra! Instead, we get the core of founder-members Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge, together with additional drummer, 2 keyboard players and a flautist. And the music benefits.

It will soon be 40 years since Hayward and Lodge joined the Moodies, but on this evidence they sound younger and more invigorated than for many years. The lack of an orchestra seems to give the music room to breathe, and the musicians to stretch out more - the band are tight and full of energy, rocking out with vigour on the up tempo numbers yet equally at home on the gentler material where subtlety is required. Hayward's voice is just as silky smooth and expressive as it always has been, as indeed is his guitar work. Lodge's voice has sadly suffered a little from age as he can no longer reach those highs. Much of the time the female backing singers take care of that side of things, but even when singing normally he sounds to be straining a little. The other notable performance is by Norda Mullen the flautist who does a good job in filling the gap left by departed Ray Thomas.

It is hard to pick highlights, as nearly all the songs are performed well, but my personal favourites are Hayward's The Other Side Of Life, Lodge's Talking Out Of Turn, and most of all, hearing Graeme Edge recite Higher And Higher to a brilliant instrumental workout. Aside from the obvious standards, which all benefit from this new setting, it is nice to hear one or two oldies afresh: The Actor and Are You Sitting Comfortably stand up well after all these years, and Hayward's rendition of his solo hit Forever Autumn is a welcome addition. The only song which, for me, doesn't quite hit the spot is Ride My See-Saw which on this occasion seems like an anti-climax after a magnificent Question.

This album was recorded live at The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles in June 2005 with an appreciative and typically enthusiastic audience. They all sound as if they were enjoying the proceedings - band and audience alike - but, fortunately, the audience noise is balanced well enough not to interfere with the music. Any dialogue between band and audience is largely restricted to the "and the next track is ..." variety. The sound is excellent, being mostly crisp and clear, though there may be issues with the mix in some places: the backing vocals are sometimes too recessed; a couple of songs are devalued a little by over-prominent drums; and the bass is often indistinct. But these are only minor quibbles and do not detract from the listening experience.

I really love this album, and it has quickly become a favourite. It reminds me of their 'Caught Live + 5' (recorded in the 60s) - sure this is a lot more polished and professional in every way, but there is the same feeling of raw energy and excitement which I did not expect from guys that I had written off years ago (shame on me). In an ideal world I would rate it with a maximum score, but this is ProgArchives, and this album's relevance to Prog is questionable. I have therefore chosen to rate it 3: in it's relationship with Prog it is good, but not essential. However, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to all fans of the Moodies!

Joolz | 3/5 |


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